Notre Dame Fighting Irish kicker Kyle Brindza knows the pressure is on him now

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Notre Dame Fighting Irish sophomore kicker Kyle Brindza has been fairly solid this season, but he credits head coach Brian Kelly for sticking with him even when his kicks aren't sailing through the uprights.

Kyle Brindza is a sophomore kicker for an undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, so he certainly knows a little bit about performing under pressure, but he's also still focusing on becoming more consistent throughout the season. The Irish suddenly have national championship aspirations, and with defense as their calling card, Brindza knows he could be called upon to execute a kick in a close game whenever the offense might sputter. He's grateful that head coach Brian Kelly has kept up his confidence through the ups and downs of the 2012 campaign.

Brindza is kicking a respectable 14-for-19 on field goal attempts (73.7 percent) this season, but he is just 8-for-12 on kicks from 30+ yards. A rough 1-for-3 day against BYU back on Oct. 20 marks the low point of his season, but even in the bad times his head coach has been in his corner, as Brindza recently told CSN-Chicago:

"It's a lot better than a coach coming up and yelling at you," Brindza said of his interaction with Kelly after his missed kick [against Oklahoma]. "If coach came up and yelled at you right away, was very heated at you, you'd kind of sit back and be like ‘wow,' and you'd actually think more about the miss, rather than what do I need to do. So having a coach that's able to come up to you and have faith and be able to give confidence to yourself as well as joking around a little bit, which he did, it's a lot better."

The young kicker is now focused on making sure he applies proper mechanics on each field goal attempt -- he says he needs to do a better job of keeping his head down on the follow-through -- as he knows there may be moments where the undefeated season could hinge on the results of one of his kicks.

No. 3 Notre Dame (8-0) hosts Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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